KIEV, UKRAINE (WNCN) — They are photos the world did not expect to wake up and see. The first American president to visit a country at war in which the United States was not also fighting.
“First of all, I think it’s amazing they pulled this off in an era when it’s hard to keep anything secret, let alone a complicated operation like this,” said Bruce W. Jentleson, William Preston Few Professor of Public Policy and Professor of Political Science at Duke University and former Senior Advisor to the U.S. State Department Policy Planning Director.
President Biden’s surprise trip to Kiev and his meeting with President Zelensky has both international and domestic implications. That includes the impact it has on the waning interest and support of some Americans and politicians as we mark the one-year anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“Foreign policy is a lot about symbols and psychological messages and this is really big on that front. Including at a time where the President is having more opposition at home from Republicans and some others about the aid packages and continued support. It’s a very big movement for the effort and for Zelensky to point to that,” said Jentleson.
Fresh off new worries that China could provide support to Russia, Jentleson said the Chinese foreign minister recently met with European leaders and ministers. The thought was that he could start a split between European nations and the United States.
It didn’t work.
“And I think their message to him was look we’re not looking for a cold war with China, we’d like to have some economic relations and other relations with you. But if you provide military aid to Russia that’s a problem for us, at least as much if more than it is for the United States,” Jentleson said.
When it comes to the 2024 election, all of this comes into play. At 80 years old and with the strong possibility of running for President again, images of Biden’s stamina will be closely scrutinized. But so will his foreign policy experience and its effectiveness as he now heads to Poland.
Some Republican politicians, like Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, have criticized Biden’s trip to Ukraine by saying Biden should be more focused on issues at home. In recent elections foreign policy experience has not been a high priority for American voters.
Jentleson believes that could change.
“This may be an election between China and Russia where we go back to thinking about how important foreign policy expertise is in our leader, and it’s always been a strong suit for Biden, and I think he wants to continue to play it that way in 2024,” he said.